Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as a Treatment for CRPS/Nerve Pain
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive, medication-free treatment that involves placing electromagnetic coils on the scalp to stimulate the motor cortex in the brain. This stimulation causes changes in the brain and can be used to treat several mental and physical health conditions, including obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, and migraines with aura.
Initial studies suggest that TMS may also relieve nerve pain. This is especially true for nerve pain associated with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). CRPS nerve pain is typically felt on one side of the body, often in an arm, leg, hand, or foot. When TMS is applied to the scalp on the opposite side of the body than the affected limb or extremity, pain may be reduced or eliminated.
TMS is currently being proposed as an alternative treatment to more invasive procedures, such as deep brain stimulation and neurosurgical motor cortex stimulation. These treatments have been shown to reduce neuropathic pain, but come with a higher risk of complications and are more costly than TMS.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved TMS as a treatment for CRPS or nerve pain. Additional studies and research are needed.